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Effingham could hold key to GOP primary
07.08 ray mckinney 2
GOP congressional candidate Ray McKinney said Effingham County’s two local Republican races will have an impact on the 12th District race. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Effingham County may hold the key to the upcoming Republican Congressional primary. And not just because a native son is in the race.

Ray McKinney, an Effingham County High School graduate and one of the three candidates vying for the GOP nod, said the county will play a pivotal role in determining the nominee.

“Effingham is the key,” he said. “I run numbers for a living, and Effingham will pick the candidate.”

The driving factor is what else is on the ballot for Effingham voters July 15. With two contested races among local Republican candidates, McKinney figures the sheriff and tax commissioner races will drive up the number of voters in that primary.

There are contested races on the Democrat side, but none of them involve an Effingham County position.

“That’s the whole key, the sheriff’s race,” McKinney said. “That’s what it’s going to come down to. All politics is local.”

Few of the other 22 counties in the 12th District have contested local Republican races, much less any contested races.
“Bulloch (County) has no contested races — none,” McKinney said.

Also, Chatham County has four candidates in the Democrats’ primary for the Eastern Circuit district attorney nod. That vote could drive up Democratic poll numbers in the primary.

Turnout for primaries is typically low, McKinney acknowledged, and voters often cross party lines to vote in races of local interest. McKinney said he talked to a woman in Montgomery County who is a Republican but is going to vote in the Democratic primary July 15 because of a county commissioner race.

With only a week left before the primary — and as early voting is already under way — McKinney said his message is resonating with voters he meets along the campaign trail.

“There is a level of frustration that we all share,” he said.

A GOP forum will be held in Candler County tonight and the Statesboro Herald is sponsoring a Republican Congressional candidates’ forum Thursday night.